Eighteen Summers: Some Thoughts on Doing Enough

Why, hello. It’s been far too long, hasn’t it?

I have an excuse. (I always have an excuse.) This time, the excuse is a 25-pound firecracker who, until recently, believed sleep was for babies. But I may have already mentioned this once or twice. Or three times. Fine, four. It was kind of a big deal around here.

(Also, before you ask: as the youngest of four, Emmeline is not a baby. She is a big kid like her siblings. Clearly.)

Ahem. Where was I?

Oh, right. I was in the land of Not Writing (or running, or sleeping, or doing much of anything beyond surviving). That’s where I was.

Round about the beginning of June, the memes appear. Maybe you’ve seen them.

“Eighteen summers!” they proclaim. “That’s all you get. Make this one count!”

I understand the intent behind such sentiments. Really, I do. This life is a gift. Time with our kids is precious. We should not squander such things or take them for granted.

But, goodness, do I hate those cheery, sepia-toned, guilt-inducing, one-lined piles of nonsense.

(And yes. I do realize that it is now, ahem, October, and this particular meme has been retired for another seven or eight months. Maybe just pretend this was published four months ago, when I started it, mmk?)

(On second thought, you don’t have to pretend. Instead, just acknowledge how beautifully this all fits with the theme of this post–which isn’t yet apparent, I know–and assume I did it intentionally.)

(Enough asides. Let’s move on.)

A year is a long time.

(And also? It’s a short time. More on that in a moment.)

You can, theoretically, get a lot done in a year. Write and publish a novel, say, or train for a marathon. Launch a non-profit or small business. Declutter and organize a home.

Or, if those goals feel too lofty, you can aim lower: read through the Bible. Run a half marathon 10K Train for a 5K. Publish Write a short story.

In the past 365 days, how many of those things have I accomplished?

Exactly none.

Katie is nine this year. Nine! Which means we’ve burned through half of those hypothetical eighteen summers.

In past years, in those years when I took the well-meaning-but-flawed advice to “Enjoy EVERY moment!” to heart, I’d have felt a certain anxiety at this fact. Am I enjoying them enough? Am I creating enough memories? Am I filling their childhood with enough magic?

Invariably, if you’re the kind of person who finds herself asking such questions, the answer is always and forever no. No, you are not. Not enjoying enough, not creating enough, not filling enough. (Implied: not being enough.) Not even close.

I don’t know about you, but I just don’t need that kind of pressure in my life.

What I do need in my life is, well, lots of things. But for the sake of actually making a point, I’ll stick with the one for now:

Sleep. What I need in my life is sleep.

And I’m happy to report that, sometime in the past several months (the timeline, like so much of my memory of the last two years, is fuzzy), we have finally started to get it again. Praise Jesus.

I cannot tell you how glorious it is to get a full night of uninterrupted sleep. And then to get it for multiple nights in a row? There are no words.

(This might be because sustained periods of severe sleep deprivation does things to your brain. Perhaps. But let’s just go with the idea that it is really, truly wonderful beyond description.)

At some point in the distant past, when I was still in the fog of no-sleep-land, I had this idea that my lack of productivity was directly tied to my lack of sleep. If I could just get that solid eight hours, I would write and run and read and serve and plan and fill my kids’ lives with wonder and joy and awesomeness. I would do All The Things. I would get So Much Done, and it would be amazing.

I was wrong.

But you didn’t really need me to tell you that, did you?

Spoiler alert: our summer did not include any out-of-this-world, incredible, life-changing outings. There were no bucket-list adventures. We certainly did not cherish every moment.

But we did cook pizzas on our grill and swim in the pool. We played with cousins and friends. We sampled fresh peach and strawberry milkshakes and ate blackberries and tomatoes picked straight from the vine. We went to the county fair and met ducks and hogs and horses and cows. We played card games and watched movies and read books (oh so many books). We went on walks. We ate ice cream.

Another one of our “eighteen summers” has come and gone, and, as is true of the two years of sleepless non-productivity, we don’t have much to show for it. It was ordinary, filled with normal, quiet, mundane moments.

But you know what?

It was enough.

3 response to "Eighteen Summers: Some Thoughts on Doing Enough"

  1. By: Megan Hammond Posted: October 4, 2023

    I am always as a mom feeling like I am not doing enough. I actually even go around singing to myself silently, the song from the greatest showman “never enough, never never….”
    It is hard to feel like you are doing exactly enough. I feel like there is always so much pressure.
    Thank you for encouraging me to enjoy the here, the now, that what’s before me is enough for me and my family.

  2. By: Jo Posted: October 4, 2023

    Both of you moms have my respect, you are doing the good work of being with your kids 

  3. By: Jamie Posted: October 25, 2023

    There is way too much pressure for us to be more and do more! But those every day moments are so special and so much of what we give our kids are squished into those ordinary days. When I’m being generous to myself, I think the ordinary days where we didn’t do much are the most important ones.

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